25 And it came to pass on the third day, when they were sore, that two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brethren, took each man his sword, and came upon the city boldly, and slew all the males.
26 And they slew Hamor and Shechem his son with the edge of the sword, and took Dinah out of Shechem’s house, and went out.
28 They took their sheep, and their oxen, and their asses, and that which was in the city, and that which was in the field,
29 And all their wealth, and all their little ones, and their wives took they captive, and spoiled even all that was in the house.
The men of the city had shown a complete lack of conscience in how they treated the rape of Dinah. Their blindness to their own offense ended up being their own undoing, though. For one who is blind to the fact that they have done anything wrong is also blind to the fact that their might be a vengeance brewing.
And so, in their haste to fulfill the requirement given by Jacob’s sons, all the men of the city were circumcised at the same time, meaning that all of them were compromised at the same time. There was no battalion of whole men kept as a reserve to protect them from sudden attacks. This was the moment of total weakness that Jacob’s sons had calculated for, and in their wrath Simeon and Levi descended upon the city and killed every male.
There is a powerful lesson here of what happens when an entire community collectively loses their conscience. Ecclesiastes 9:15 speaks of a city being saved by a single wise man. So long as their remains one who can see things as they truly are there remains hope. But what if there is no wise man? What if there is no one of conscience who can accurately predict consequences from actions? In that case the entire city is vulnerable. They will work their own destruction, and not even know they are doing so until it has consumed them.
Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.
And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.
If thou canst believe, all things are possible
The father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief
I love this example of a father being open and honest about his lacking. He truly wants to have more faith but he just doesn’t. And Jesus is able to work with that. In fact, by waiting to perform the miracle until after the man had made this vulnerable request Jesus was able to heal both child and father.
Sometimes the best prayers I’ve offered have been along the lines of “God, I really wish I didn’t feel so spiritually closed off right now…but I just do.” Rather than trying to push through the spiritual barrier alone or pretend it isn’t there we can call it out directly. We can bring it onto the table so that He can start working with us on it.
Sometimes we feel perfectly genuine and authentic. We are spiritually awake and directly connected to God. We feel committed to everything that is good and ready to make every needed change in our lives. We are vulnerable and open to receiving the love of God and others.
And then we wake up the next day and feel nothing. It is as if our soul felt too exposed and grew several layers overnight to shield it. And even if we know that the previous state was better we can’t just flip a switch to return to get back there.
With this study I want to consider how we return to a genuine and open-hearted place when we’re stuck in the doldrums. I want to consider the practices of prophets and saints in the scriptures, and what ways they found to keep their connection to God fresh.
In the meantime I would love to hear about your own experiences on the matter. Can you recall a moment of spiritual fervor followed by apathy? Were you able to break through to deeper feelings again? What methods did you employ, and how did you know to use them?
When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
They that are whole have no need of the physician
When Jesus told Peter “if I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me” (John 13:8), he was repeating a message that he had already shared before. Those who are whole do not need the doctor, those that are perfect do not require repentance, those that are clean do not need to be washed. But if you are not broken, or if you are not dirty, or if you are not sick…then you have nothing to do with Jesus, for that is who he came for.
I have recognized in myself the desire to not be a bother to my Savior. I yearn to be totally perfect so that he doesn’t have to be burdened by the weight of my soul. I think it is a good thing he suffered and died for the world…but I don’t want the guilt of knowing that he suffered and died for me.
And so I say to him the same thing that we say to each other any time our emotional wounds come up. “I’m fine, I’m totally fine. I’ve had some rough stuff in the past, but,” shrug “it weren’t nothing.” We are too afraid to admit that we have been hurt and hurt deeply. Afraid to show that we are broken. Afraid to admit that we are not okay.
We’re fine, we’re totally fine. And so long as that is our claim, Jesus sighs, smiles sadly, and says “thou hast no part with me.”